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An admiring toddler, secured in the arms of her mommy, just had to give it up to Warren basketball player Gregory Swane before she headed home to bed.
"Greg. Greg," she said, trying to get the 6-foot-6 senior's attention.
Swane paused and acknowledged his young fan with a wide smile.
"Good game," she said.
The truth? Swane has been receiving that kind of love since last summer, when he transferred from Zion-Benton to Warren. And why not? Swane's effort of 15 points and 13 rebounds in the Blue Devils' 89-71 win over visiting Mundelein on Wednesday night was typical.
"I'm loving it," Swane, who spent his first three years of high school at Z-B, said of life as a Warren Blue Devil. "They have a great team, great coaches, great fans, everything. Coming from Zion-Benton, it was a big transition for me, but since Day 1, they've treated me like family."
Eric Gillespie had 27 points, 6 assists and 5 steals for Warren, which improved to 15-8 overall and 4-4 in the North Suburban Conference Lake Division. Derek Parola poured in 27 points to lead Mundelein (2-20, 0-7), which trailed most of the night. Parola sank five of his six 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, helping the Mustangs trim a 29-point deficit to 12.
It was the third time this season that the Mustangs lost to the Blue Devils. Not that Mundelein guard Nick Filippo is getting tired of playing Warren.
"I'm getting tired of seeing that stupid zone,"said Filippo, whose 12 points included a pair of 3-pointers. The 5-5 senior also secured 3 offensive rebounds. "It's hard to pass to Derek in that zone."
Parola's first 3 of the night had Mundelein up 10-8, before Gillespie fed Swane and then Jovan Jokic (6 points) for layups. Gillespie's layup in transition capped a 10-2 run that had the hosts up 18-12.
Gillespie had 18 points by halftime, as Warren enjoyed a 44-34 advantage.
"He's fast. Very fast," Filippo said.
Swane provides Warren another element. While Gillespie and Adrian Deere can handle the ball and score it from the perimeter, Swane gives the Blue Devils an inside presence.
"He brings a good finishing dimension to our team down low," Warren coach Ryan Webber said. "He's done a really nice job for us. "He puts relief off our guards."
Swane and his teammates picked up their intensity after halftime. Swane scored 9 points in the third quarter in helping Warren outscore Mundelein 26-9 to take a 70-43 advantage into the fourth. After missing an earlier dunk attempt, Swane soared high on a breakaway and threw down a one-handed jam for a 65-40 lead with 1:29 left in the third.
"It felt good to get the dunk," Swane said. "I was hoping the team got hyped up a little."
Warren never looked back. Deere finished with 17 points, 6 assists and 6 steals, while Calvin Payawal and James Betori scored 9 and 8 points, respectively, coming off the bench for the Blue Devils.
Mundelein forward J.T. Michalski added 18 points, 6 rebounds and 3 steals. The Mustangs' single-season record holder for charges also took another one.
"They play super hard and have a couple of really good players," Webber said of the Mustangs. "When Parola gets hot, it's hard for us to get out there and extend."